Friday, 27 May 2016

SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN

A BROLLY GOOD SHOW…but perhaps the ‘safe’ production puts a slight dampener on this Singin’ In The Rain

Written by Georgina Brown
Georgina-Brown-colour-176‘Doo-dloo-doo-doo-doo…’ Just a bar or two of that and up comes the indelible image of Gene Kelly ‘singin’ in the rain...’, brolly in hand, stamping and sploshing and tap-dancing up a storm around that iconic lamp post. In fact, the shoot for the famous scene lasted a day and a half, during which Kelly had a raging temperature, raised by being throttled by a woollen suit that had shrunk in the wet. Moreover, Debbie Reynolds’s Kathy Selden – the reason why Kelly’s Don Lockwood believes he’s walking on sunshine when he’s ankle deep in water – suffered even more. Some 14 hours shooting the raucous tap dance Good Morning over the kitchen furniture left her with blood pouring from her feet.

In Elizabeth Newman’s revival, a talented ensemble are not only singing and dancing and jumping in and out of the (fabulous) costumes of several characters, but also drumming up musical accompaniment on a dozen different instruments – with no apparent loss of sweat or blood.

Indeed, that reckless extra mile is all that’s missing in this admirable but safe production. Still, there’s plenty of rain, which Matthew Croke’s twinkle-toed Don merrily whooshes over the stalls. Those in the front rows, tucked up in polythene, squealed with delight. Croke isn’t in tap shoes for his big number so there’s splatter but no clatter, but he brings a quiet charm to the part of decent Don.

This is one of those irresistible shows when you go in already humming and come out singing much louder. And that may well have been the case when the great MGM movie opened in the 1952. For it began with the catchy title song by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed and several others from their back catalogue. Writers Betty Comden and Adolph Green strung these ‘pre-loved’ pearls – You Were Meant For Me, You Are My Lucky Star – together to tell the tale of the arrival of the talkies in 1920s Hollywood.

Sarah Vezmar leaps from behind her drum kit to shriek like a strangled cat, suggesting the moment the career of vocally challenged leading lady Lina Lamont ground to a screeching halt. Her co-star, Don (the Gene Kelly role), suggests that chorus girl Kathy provides the voice Lina requires to sound as good as she looks. Which works a treat until Lina decides to take the credit and Don’s friend, furious on Kathy’s behalf, sabotages the recordings. ‘What’s wrong with me?’ squawks Vezmar. Nothing much, just insufficient vigour and vim to make the score soar.

Until 28 May at the Salisbury Playhouse; 3 to 25 June at the Octagon Bolton: 01204-520661, www.octagonbolton.co.uk then 30 June to 16 July at the New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-Under-Lyme



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